March 3, 2012
Northwest falls in semis 56-53
By David Boyce
KANSAS CITY, MO. – The three-pointers failed to fall and because of it, Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team fell to Pittsburg State 56-53 in the semifinals of the MIAA Tournament Saturday evening at Municipal Auditorium.
The good news is Northwest most likely did enough during the regular season to earn a spot in next week’s South Central Regional. The Bearcats are 22-6.
“I’m very proud of our team and where we come,” said Northwest coach Ben McCollum. “If we are fortunate enough to make regional, which I assume we will, we will learn from this game.”
Still, it was a bitter loss to swallow, especially since Northwest started the game so well, leading the entire first half and the first 14 minutes of the second half.
“I thought we started off playing real well,” McCollum said. “We were competing and playing defense and doing the things we do.
“In the second half, we were still defending pretty well, but we had trouble scoring. We weren’t getting a lot of penetration.”
The biggest lead Northwest held in the second half was 31-25 and that was in the opening minutes of the second half when Kyle Haake knocked down a three-pointer.
From that point on, treys became nonexistent for the Bearcats.
Pittsburg State used on hounding defense to stay close. The Gorillas finally tied the game at 41-41 with 8:37 left on a basket by Rico PierreVilus.
The Gorillas, though, couldn’t get that one basket to put them ahead. That changed with 5:53 left when Marky Nolen scored, giving Pittsburg State its first lead of the game at 45-43.
“I felt their defense was more compact,” Northwest junior DeShaun Cooper said.
Northwest briefly regained the lead at 47-45 on two free throws by Jake Reinders.
Pittsburg State scored the next seven points for a 52-47 lead with 3:42 left. It was too much for the Bearcats to overcome even though they had their chances with 30 seconds left.
Several times Northwest put up a game-tying three-pointer in the remaining time. But unlike Friday night, the shot didn’t fall.
The Bearcats made just four of 19 three-point attempts and that pretty much did them in.
The game started so well for the Bearcats.
Northwest scored the first seven points and bolted to a 15-4 lead. The ease in which the Bearcats were scoring made it look like they were on the way to an easy victory.
The fact that Northwest went into halftime with a slim 26-24 lead tells you just how much Pittsburg State disrupted the Bearcats offensive flow the last 12 minutes of the first half.
“It has happened before to us in games,” McCollum said. “Points come so easy to start and what happens then it is not good enough to do the easy things and so we get cuter and cuter and then it starts to snowball on you. Then it is hard to turn that back around once you give them defensive confidence.”
The Gorillas took advantage of the long scoring drought by Northwest and tied the game at 16-16 with 5:37 left.
Northwest responded on a basket by Justin Clark. However, the remainder of the first half remained tight.
Defense ruled the first 20 minutes. Each team shot 39 percent from the field.
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